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Let’s continue our Foundations 101 series today with Savour.
The word savour usually brings to mind food. It makes me think of savouring a meal or a favorite treat. The word can also refer to more than food, and that’s how I’m using it here. I’m inviting you to savour your time with friends and family. To savour the feel of a cool breeze on a hot day. To savour the moments when you feel joy, excitement, or achievement. It’s easy to do, if we can only remember.
It is easy to savour the positive emotions and moments, though we don’t always remember. When we do pause to savour those moments, they become more memorable. The moment becomes more meaningful. We connect on a deeper level to the people we experience the moment with.
That sounds great, but my life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns
No one has a life without struggle. It becomes more difficult to savour the moments when they aren’t 100% positive. To be thankful and embrace those moments that are bittersweet. To try to embrace the bitter parts is a difficult thing to do. I believe it is possible and that these moments will have greater meaning, and we’ll be able to feel the sweet with the bitter. Just like the charm of good coffee or tea or chocolate comes from the bitter notes. Just like a song feels more complete with inclusion of minor chords or slight dissonance.
An idea from meditation teachings is that suffering is optional but pain is not. In other words, you can either feel the pain now or you can suffer as that pain slowly works its way out. Either way, you will feel the pain; the question is whether you will suffer.
I know it is not an easy thing to suggest, that we can savour moments during the painful parts of life. We don’t need to savour the pain, but we do need to experience it. We can feel the pain, and find something within the experience to be thankful for or to savour.
Wait a minute, this sounds familiar…
As I mentioned above, and for those who know meditation this sounds very familiar. What I am talking about, when I talk about savour, is a kind of everyday mindfulness. To savour something requires us to pay attention, be thankful, and actually experience it. These are all aspects of mindfulness as well. 1
Mindfulness, meditation, prayer, journaling – these are all contemplative practices. 2. These are things we do, that we practice, and that allow us to get to know our thoughts and to feel our feelings deeper. Every culture and every religion has traditional contemplative practices. Yet it seems that in modern, secular, Western culture – my culture – we have lost our way when it comes to contemplation.
What’s so special about savouring the moment?
We once knew that we needed to hear the thoughts that run through our mind and to fully experience our feelings. The purpose is expressed differently depending on the culture:
- to be able to be present for others,
- to feel compassion and serve others,
- to recognize God’s plan for us,
- to become enlightened,
- to reduce stress, anxiety, or suffering
The reasons given vary, but they all agree that to live a good life, we need to savour the present. In whatever way the present moment is in front of us.
In modern western culture though, we are mesmerized by sound bites, and short attention grabbing headlines. We are constantly distracted. We scroll through never ending feeds of information. And we don’t stop to consider whether we are doing things that matter. We don’t stop to savour the presence of the people around us. We don’t stop to smell the flowers, or experience the sunset. We just snap the picture and move on to the next thing.
There is movement though. Some of us are beginning to realize that where we are, as a culture, is not doing us any good, it doesn’t feel good, and it is not the good life. We are beginning to rediscover what we always knew, back when we were children, that the world is full of wonder. We are beginning to rediscover what our culture once knew, that deep thinking is worth doing.
I’ve called this foundational area ‘Savour’, but I could have also used the words ‘Enjoy,’ ‘Mindful,’ ‘Intuitive,’ or ‘Thoughtful’. Chances are, as I go along, I’ll be using those words as well, because they are all a piece of the puzzle. We will be talking about Savour while talking about the other areas, as well as talking about it on its own.
Savouring your experiences is a practice worth doing. Even if you are going through a rough patch in your life, is there something today that you can savour? Something that you may not have taken the time to appreciate before?
Let me know in the comments below, how do you stop to smell the metaphorical, or perhaps literal, flowers?